48% of Americans Prefer to Live for Today Than Plan for Tomorrow

September 5, 2012

This article is included in these additional categories:

Asia-Pacific | Boomers & Older | Europe & Middle East | Global & Regional | Household Income | Men | Women | Youth & Gen X

ipsos-us-attitudes-to-planning-vs-living-sept2012.png48% of Americans would rather “live for today” than “plan for tomorrow,” according to [pdf] September 2012 survey results from Ipsos. Americans skew above-average in this preference, 4% points higher than the 44% average among respondents from 25 markets worldwide. Within the US, women show a stronger preference for living for today than men (49% vs. 46%). Americans aged up to 49 years old are virtually split in their choice, but those aged 50 to 64 show a clear preference for planning for tomorrow rather than living for today (57% vs. 43%).

US Planners Skew Higher In Income, Education, Responsibility

The percentage of Americans who favor planning for tomorrow rises along with income. While 42% of Americans in low-income households prefer planning for tomorrow, 51% in medium-income households report the same, as do 55% in high-income households. It is somewhat unsurprising that lower-income households are more focused on daily life than on the future.

Education level also appears to play a part in these preferences. 47% of Americans with low educational attainment prefer to plan for tomorrow, compared to 54% of those with a medium level of educational attainment, and 60% with higher education. Respondents who are chief income earners also show a higher preference for planning than those who are not (59% vs. 46%), as do the employed compared to the unemployed (55% vs. 48%), business owners compared to non-business owners (59% vs. 51%), and senior executive decision makers compared to those who are not (also 59% vs. 51%).

Married Americans, at 56%, display a higher preference for planning than the national average, of 52%. This may be related to a higher likelihood of married respondents having children: according to a Burson-Marsteller report from July 2012, 76% of American parents value “preparing my child for success in the future” over “making sure my child is happy now” at 22% (with 2% undecided).

Indonesians The Most Avid Planners

According to the Ipsos report, regionally, the Middle East and Africa shows the highest preference for planning for tomorrow (67%), and Latin America the lowest (40%). The Asia-Pacific region is second highest, at 59%, and Europe third, at 57%.

Indonesians (85%) display the strongest preference for planning, with Hungarians second (76%) and Poles third (72%). The most devout planners are Indonesian senior executive decision makers, with a 92% preference.

Seemingly the least inclined to plan for tomorrow are Mexicans and Spanish, each at 37%.

Other Findings:

  • Middle-income Poles (83%) are far more prone to planning than their lower- and higher-income counterparts (70% and 64%).
  • Just 14% of higher-income Mexicans prefer planning for tomorrow, compared to their lower- and middle-income counterparts (36% and 47%).

About the Data: The Ipsos data is based on a survey of 12,500 consumers in 25 countries.

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